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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2012 Feb;198(2):418-22. doi: 10.2214/AJR.11.6590.

MRI appearance of the proximal hamstring tendons in patients with and without symptomatic proximal hamstring tendinopathy.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, 600 Highland Ave, Madison, WI 53792-3252, USA.



The purpose of our study was to determine if six MRI findings of the proximal hamstrings differ in frequency in hamstrings with and without symptoms of tendinopathy.


We reviewed the MRI examinations of 118 consecutive patients who had undergone pelvis MRI and evaluation by a musculoskeletal clinical specialist. The proximal hamstrings were evaluated at four consecutive axial locations for tendon size, internal T1 and T2 signal, peritendinous T2 signal, and ischial tuberosity edema. Statistical analysis was performed to determine the association of the MRI findings with symptomatic hamstring tendinopathy.


Twenty-one patients had a clinical diagnosis of unilateral proximal hamstring tendinopathy. The mean width or anteroposterior size was significantly larger in symptomatic hamstrings at all three proximal levels (p = 0.002-0.040). More than 90% of hamstring tendons had increased internal T1 or T2 signal that was not associated with hamstring symptoms. Both hamstrings with and without symptoms of tendinopathy had peritendinous T2 signal, but this was significantly more common in hamstrings with tendinopathy symptoms at the three most distal levels (p = 0.001-0.041). Ischial tuberosity edema and a feathery appearance of the peritendinous T2 signal distally were significantly more common in symptomatic hamstrings (p = 0.004 and 0.001, respectively).


Increased T1 and T2 signal is commonly seen within the proximal hamstrings but is not associated with symptoms of hamstring tendinopathy. Increased tendon size, peritendinous T2 signal with a distal feathery appearance, and ischial tuberosity edema are significantly associated with symptomatic hamstring tendinopathy but can be seen in asymptomatic individuals.

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